This article from Variety magazine, an American entertainment industry magazine provides a good starting point for understanding the true significance of the new CD Capitol US Beatle Album box set. As it explains, the Universal Group Music [UMG] company bought the Beatle catalogue in 2012 for $1.9 billion. They have a marketing plan for developing a new generation of Beatle fans for well into the 21st Century.
2 new albums were released in late 2013; the second Beatles at the BBC cd + a special ITunes Beatles Bootleg download. They will be releasing the mono EMI Parlophone albums on vinyl later this year. Many other Beatle releases will follow in the years ahead.
The new Beatles US Albums box set has been specifically released as the grand centrepiece, or main kick off for their sales campaign, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania in the United States. You can learn more about UMG's marketing strategy @ Variety Article
The box set is UMG's kick off for its 21st Century Beatles marketing plan.
The new Beatles Capitol US Album box set includes the first 11 Capitol USA albums from 1964-1966 in both mono and stereo. The CD discs are packaged in a drawer box. Each CD cover has been accurately replicated as a mini-lp or album. There is a new sound mix on the albums. 5 new previously unreleased Capitol US titles are included, on CD, for the first time; Hard Days Night [Soundtrack], The Beatles Story, Yesterday + Today, Revolver and Hey Jude. There's a 64 page booklet too. I'll spare you all the details. You can see the new box set for yourself @ Promo
The Beatles company, Apple Corp, is also of course involved in the UMG plans. Here is the ad on the Beatle's official website for the new box set. It has some nifty interactive features that can help you live/ relive the heady early days of Beatlemania during their first February 1964 US visit. That includes the Beatles famous Feb 6 1964 television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. You can also see the 50th Anniversary trailer video for the new box set here too @ Beatles Website
This Popmarket.com advertisement let's you enlarge and see the original album cover artwork for each of the 11 Capitol USA albums. Canadian buyers are kindly warned to be careful purchasing the box set from this US based marketing site. With shipping, taxes and duties it will cost you substantially more than the advertised price. The list price in Canada, for example on Amazon.ca, is actually less than in the US. Free shipping is included. Most Canadian music and entertainment stores now also have it on sale too. I even saw it at Cost.co the other day for $129. It is a pretty cool looking set. You can check out the new mini lp album covers here for free @ Cover Art Work
However, if you would like to see how these terrible crooks [the bad people I mean, not the "Capitol"-ist company] pull off their scams, you can search for torrent sites like this one online. Please note that they are forced to change web addresses + titles a lot so they don't get caught. The address might have even changed by the time you might go here. If you were to that is. Whew! We can only hang our heads and bemoan the duplicity. How can you tell I'm a retired teacher eh? Oh well. One site is or was @ For bad people only!
The original EMI Parlophone Beatles catalogue consisted of 13 albums but many more combinations and later releases were also made in many countries around the world.
You should note that not all Beatle albums are created equal. Between 1963 and 1970 the Beatles original UK EMI Parlophone record label had released 13 albums by the group. These were first released on CD in the late 1980's. There were many criticisms of these CD transfers of the albums over the years, which was addressed when EMI remastered and rereleased the Beatles original UK album catalogue on CD again in 2009. They were made commercially available in 2 box sets, one stereo and another in mono. The individual stereo albums were also later released on vinyl too
A problem remained: for nostalgic reasons many North American Beatle fans missed and wanted copies of the Beatles Capitol USA albums that had been released here between 1964 and 1970. Different album titles, track listings and sound mixes of the original Beatles catalogue had been created for the teenage market in the US and Canada during the 1960's. By adding various singles, and EP tracks onto shorter albums, Capitol US managed to release 20 Beatle records for the North American market, compared to EMI Parlophone's 13. These were the Beatle albums most early North American fans grew up with and remembered best.
When the Beatles albums were first released on CD during the late 1980's the catalogue had been standardized so that only the original EMI Parlophone albums were available for sale. To meet the market demand, and stop the growing number of counterfeit unofficial pirate copies of the now deleted Capitol US albums, EMI had also released two 4 cd box sets of these albums in 2004 and 2008.
2004 Capitol Albums Box Set #1
So then, the modern Beatles fan might well now face a perplexing dilemma. Do you buy the new Capitol US box set or not? Indeed, most all of the song tracks on the 2009 mono and stereo box set tracks and individual CDs are in fact the same, except for the different configurations. A slight echo effect has been added to many of the Capitol US tracks so they somewhat resemble, although are not the same as the sound mixes created for the original Capitol US albums. However a few alternate mixes of some of the 2009 songs have also been included, for about 31 of the 180 songs in the new box set. For a comparison see @ Differences?
EMI/ Parlophone 2009 Stereo Remaster Box Set
Here is a critical review of the new box set which helps explain the new sound mixes you will hear on the new Capitol US box set albums. It explains how Capitol US A+R [Artist + Recording] manager Dave Dexter Jr remixed the songs creating new mono, stereo and even duophonic versions for the US teenage market. Also note that the titles of and song tracks on each US album are usually not the same as those for the original albums produced by George Martin with the Beatles in the UK. You can find out more @ From the 2009 Remasters!
Music technician Steve Hoffman's website features track by track information on the song sources used, explaining which are unique, and which are in true mono + stereo @ Capitol Comparisons
A list of the Beatle songs Dave "Dexterized" in the 1960's can be found @ Dexterized
US Capitol Record's Dave "Dexterization" Dexter
The Revolver Needledrop site features 15 second clips so you can hear the differences @ Audio Comparison
For today's purposes let's also look at another review. It stresses that the new Capitol US album boxset can be seen as representing a bittersweet compromise. It attempts to touch up and fix or "airbrush" over the past indignities done to the Beatles original EMI/Parlophone UK recordings when US "producer" Dave Dexter first touched up and changed the original Beatle master recordings to create the US albums during the 1960's. In the writers estimation the new box set is but a continuation of this original dishonourable Capitol USA tradition @ Fix It Job
Dave's mono + hot fake stereo US Beatle mixes were very popular with young fans in the 60's, especially the 45 rpm singles!
As an aside, Dave Dexter rejected the Beatles 3 times before he agreed to sign them to the label. He didn't like John Lennons harmonica on the early songs and thought the bigger British group would be Freddie + the Dreamers with their UK hit dance hit "Do The Freddie" @ Do the Freddie?!
When Lennon was killed Dave Dexter wrote a nasty, vitriolic letter about him. He was still mad in 1980 that Lennon didn't like how he "dexterized" their records @ Mad Dave
By the late 1960's stereo albums started to become more popular and fans + collectors wanted the "best sound" possible.
Final Note: In 2009 a limited edition MP3 Collection of the Bealtes EMI Parlophone catalogue was released in a green metal Apple with the albums, artwork + videos on a USB stick. Perhaps this will be the wave of the future, as most music in sold as music downloads nowadays. More @ Amazon
Enough you say? Okay then: So do you buy the set or not? My recommendation?
1987 Capitol CDs [Standardized UK EMI versions]: Cheap and easy to find [$10 or less] in the used stores. They do not include the US album arrangements. The sound mixes are only available in mono or stereo. Aficionados often argue the cd transfers are fairly primitive by today's standards and the early titles were often poorly done. On the other hand, they were fine for most listeners for the the better part of the last 25 years or so.
2004 +2006 Capitol box sets: These only include the first 8 US Capitol albums through 1965. Each disc contains both the mono and stereo versions of the albums. The original US mixes were used when still available, but some had to be recreated when the original master tapes were not available. Each disc comes in a mini lp sleeve copy of the original record jacket. However, they are very small. Its hard to remove and return the discs into the jackets when they are played, resulting in scratches and scuffs. These box sets are harder to find but once again are not uncommon in the used music stores for relatively cheap [$25 to $30]. A Japanese set has also been released in larger jackets which avoids the problem of scuffing and scratching while being easier to look at and read. Many aficionados argue that the quality of most Japanese discs are vastly superior to their counterparts from elsewhere around the world because of the high standards of quality control, in the sound mastering and manufacturing process. You can buy them on line at Ebay but are very pricey [$250 per box set + up].
The 20017 CD Mono Box Set came closest to faithfully producing the original UK EMI Parlophone record albums, most of which were recorded in mono.
2009 Mono + Stereo albums: These are pretty much the same as the US Capitol song masters, though not on the same album titles. They include all the Beatle records up to and including the White Album, Yellow Submarine, Let It Be and Abbey Road. The mono mixes are quite unique and many would argue superior mixes based upon the technology during the 1960's when they were recorded. The box sets can often be found on sale now, [$125-200 each] but beware of cheap counterfeits. The individual cds are often readily available on sale in many of the big music stores nowadays for cheaper [$10-12] than the US Capitol album discs [$16-18]
The New Capitol US boxset: It is available for relatively cheap. I saw them at Costco recently for $129. The larger mini sleeves are tres cool, and the pretty fancy box itself is manufactured in Japan according to their superior standards. The box set includes the unavailable album titles described above. The Hard Days Night Soundtrack, Yesterday + Today and the Hey Jude albums, although not authentic UK EMI Beatle releases were pretty cool anyways and nice to have again. A lot of fans are also partial to the chop and cut Beatles Second Album, despite the desecration, because it is one very rocking disc. Again, if you grew up with these titles they will have nostalgic value too. However, the song tracks are pretty much the same as those on the 2009 sets with some minor or fake reconstructions of the different song variations. Also note the set only includes the Beatle albums up until 1966. The unique US Sargent Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour albums mixes are inexplicably not included, and of course you won't get a copy of the White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Rd or Let It Be albums. You will need to buy these separately.
Abbey Road was the first Beatles album to be only released in stereo.
My choice: As a hardcore Beatle aficionado I need to have all of the above and enjoy each in their own way. For anybody seeking a complete set at a reasonable price I'd recommend the 2009 boxes, or just buy the CD albums from these sets that you like separately for cheap. Also pick up the individual special Capitol US titles I've listed above and you will have a nice collection.
My favourites though, would definitely be the Doctor Ebbett's needle drop recordings of the complete Beatle catalogue [US, US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, etc. etc. etc.]. Since these are not official, nor are they being made anymore nor readily available you might as well not bother with these, unless you are a really really hardcore Beatle fan. A "needle drop" is an exact copy of the original album tracks with the variations and all from the original vinyl sources. Perhaps I will write more about these in a future article though or you can Google them on line.
The Beatles USB stick: the wave of the future?